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Easter Essay: Believe the Story or Trust the Promise?

Easter calls attention to the traditional, fundamental “beliefs” associated with the Christian religion – if only for a day. The secular world pays little attention to the nuances of Christian “faith” in a post-Christian world. Easter is a liturgical season that lasts for seven weeks. In Christian tradition, the time between the resurrection of Jesus and his “ascension” into the sky (Pentecost) replaces the time between the Jewish Feast of the Passover and the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Not only do most Christians concentrate on the resurrection story – often literally. Editorial writers for supposedly sophisticated secular media seem to feel obligated to attempt to find meaning in the traditional religious legend of a dead man walking out of his tomb. But “faith” does not mean “belief.” “Faith” means “trust.” “Faith” further means “confidence.”

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – the Resurrection

We need to subject the resurrection stories of the New Testament to the same critical analysis as we did the crucifixion. So let us examine Paul’s writings and the gospels in an attempt to discover what the event we call Easter really was.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – the Crucifixion

One of the most reliable facts concerning Jesus is that he was crucified during the reign and by the action of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, who served by appointment of the Caesar from 26-36 CE. The Roman senator and historian Tacitus referred to Jesus’ execution by Pilate in his Annals, which was written circa 116 CE. Beyond that, however, there is not much historical evidence.

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Body of Christ: Body of Life

The church sign can be easily read by anyone driving by: “You can’t be a devoted follower of Jesus unless you are part of a local church.” Does the church that posts this sign not trust the people with Jesus’s message? What is the meaning of “incarnation” if not “embodiment” by individual persons of the spirit of the Christ? Is the “Body of Christ” for members only?

The Apostle Paul created the metaphor of the “Body of Christ” as the community of followers. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, he explains the meaning of the ritually-shared meal: “The cup of God’s gracious benefits that we consecrate means that we are involved in the blood of the Anointed, doesn’t it? The bread that we break means that we are involved in the body of the Anointed, doesn’t it? That there is one loaf means that we who are many constitute one body, because we all partake of the one loaf.” In Romans 12:5 he says, “Just as each of us has one body with many parts that do not all have the same function, so although there are many of us, we are the Anointed’s body, interrelated with one another.”

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Being Spiritual and Religious (1 Cor. 2:1-16; Isaiah 58:1-9a)

Sermon by Chuck Queen, Feb. 9, 2014

In contemporary speech the word spiritual is more associated with personal or private experience, while the word religious is usually connected to communal, institutional, and organizational religious life. Those who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious reject traditional organized religion as the sole or the most valuable means of advancing one’s spiritual growth.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Judas Iscariot by Ed Taylor

Judas Iscariot, the anti-hero of the story of the crucifixion, has been heaped with scorn and ridicule over the centuries. “Judas” is not used as a child’s name because it became the synonym for betrayal, for being a back-stabber. In Christian art, he is portrayed in dark, sinister tones. Events in western Christian history from the Inquisition in the fourteenth century to the expulsion of the Jews from almost every country of Europe at one time or another, to Martin Luther’s call for the burning of synagogues, to the violence and killing frenzy of the Holocaust in the twentieth century are all rooted substantially in Judas and because he was a Jew, applied to all Jews. Even his name is identical with the name by which the entire Jewish nation was known… Judas is simply a Greek spelling of Judah.

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A Different Kind of Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18-31; Micah 6:1-8)

When Paul talks about the wisdom of the world he is not talking about Greek philosophical wisdom. The wisdom of the world that Paul has particularly in mind is the wisdom that crucified Jesus. The wisdom of the world Paul is referring to is the kind of wisdom expressed in domination systems. In our context it would be powerful governments and corporations who wield enormous power and wealth to shape society in view of their own self-interests.

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Appalachia Poster Child for Systemic Injustice: West Virginia A Theological Challenge for the Third Sunday After the Epiphany

In Matthew’s midrash of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus tours all over Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, curing all kinds of diseases, and proclaiming that God’s kingdom has come. The verses in Chapter 4 selected by the creators of the Revised Common Lectionary for the third Sunday after the Epiphany are the preface to Matthew 5:1 through 7:29, the great Sermon on the Mount. Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, and invites his disciples to leave their nets and become “fishers for people,” traditionally interpreted to mean saving souls from hell. But John Dominic Crossan, points out that Jesus could have brought his message anywhere in Roman occupied Judea. Why Galilee? Why Capernaum?

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The First New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon

The earliest version of the New Testament, now in English for the first time!

History preserves the name of the person responsible for the first New Testament, the circumstances surrounding his work, and even the date he decided to build a textual foundation for his fledgling Christian community. So why do so few people know about him? Jason BeDuhn introduces Marcion, reconstructs his text, and explores his impact on the study of Luke-Acts, the two-source theory, and the Q hypothesis.

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God Says Different Things to Different People: A Midrash on St.Paul

The sermon is based on a performance of the lectionary reading from Galatians and other central texts that tell the story of Paul in his own words: Galatians 1:1-17; 2Corinthians 12:1-12; and 1Cornthians 15:1-11 with short quotes from other letters as well. As this Early Christian practice was supposed to be unscripted and is mostly based on Paul’s own words, there is no written version of the sermon on the website. You are invited to watch the video recording of the performance.

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Evolution of the Word:

The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written

the full-text of the New Testament—and one of the only Bibles organized in chronological order and including explanatory annotations that give readers a more informed understanding of the Scripture

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“Christian” A-theism, Part I

The God I Don't Believe In

When it comes to religion, Atheism is as good as any, since religion is simply about how you put some order in your otherwise chaotic world, and come up with a list of things you believe or disbelieve. The atheist and the theist both want to ask the same basic question: Do you believe in God or not? Often they are not interested in going much deeper than that. The oft-repeated response a famous preacher once gave to a religious skeptic went, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in. Chances are I don’t believe in that kind of God either.”

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God is Love: The Daily Lessons of God in Parenting

I try to carry God into all I do including parenting. This does not translate into threats or punishment about God watching but into teaching about kindness and love.

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Win, Lose or Draw?

Jesus' Way of Confounding the Trophy-centric Ways of this World

The ancient Olympic games were a series of athletic competitions between city-states. The results determined who were the winners, and who were the losers. But during the games, any conflict between the warring states was forbidden. If ever there was a time when that Olympic torch should be lit and never be extinguished, perhaps this is it. But how? It seems international good sportsmanship inside the stadium can only be assured by heavy security on the outside; where unruly competing self-interests would seek to turn winning at all cost into a blood sport. The previous Words & Ways commentary explored a foolish kind of wisdom once espoused by a Galilean sage through his teaching, the parables he told, and even the seeming absurdity found in his miracles (see “The Foolishness of Jesus”). It is this same Jesus tradition that also proposes such counter-cultural notions that one can “win by losing,” and “the last shall be first.” Here’s John Bennison’s latest commentary from Words & Ways.

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How to Read the Bible

2) The Hebrew scriptures, or the Old Testament, represent a religious tradition that is independent of the later Christian faith. The Hebrew scriptures aren’t about Jesus, although the Christian scriptures include many references to the Hebrew scriptures. To honor the fundamental differences between the two sets of scriptures doubles the spiritual significance of the entire Bible.

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